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Hounds to face tough customer

| Friday, Oct. 17, 2003

MONESSEN - Jefferson-Morgan presents a strange challenge to Monessen.

According to Greyhounds coach Joe Fischer, the Rockets are a bugaboo, a pain, a proverbial thorn in the Greyhounds' side.

"This is the team I've been worried about all year long," Fischer said, acknowledging that statement included Sto-Rox and Carmichaels. "Some teams traditionally give other teams trouble, like Springdale has always given Clairton a hard time and Avonworth seems to always play Rochester tough. Everybody has that team."

Monessen (7-0, 5-0) faces off with Jefferson-Morgan (4-3, 4-1) in a Class-A Tri-County South match up tonight at Memorial Stadium. Hoping to cruise to an undefeated season and high seed in the playoffs, the Greyhounds must get over their antagonist.

"I think it's their style of offense versus the style of defense," Fischer said. "They were beating us at halftime last year and they have everybody back. Sometimes, the kids have that mental edge like, 'we had them last year'."

If that's true, Rockets 12th-year coach Jan Haiden is not letting on.

"I don't know if there's anything to that," he said. "We've had a couple good games against them, but I've been here since 1985 and we might have beaten them twice.

"It's usually a tough game and we've had some super hard-hitting games."

That shouldn't change. While Jefferson-Morgan is not particularly fast, it does boast size with six players above 200 pounds, including 262-pound guard Eric Cox and 290-pound tackle Bryan Hutchinson blocking in three-back sets.

"Their offense is designed to use size on their offense line with quick hitters," Fischer said. They make very few mistakes. The game they made the most mistakes was Carmichaels and they just lost (18-15)."

Last week against California Area, four different runners scored on top of a scoring pass from quarterback Jimmy Basilone.

"We don't have that one exceptional player; I'd like to get some of the skill people Monessen has," Haiden said. "I've played six different running backs and it works. There's been a time we've had one or two backs that could run. Now we have a mix of kids and each does something different to add."

To Haiden, it's just another challenging conference game, not a chance to knock off the top dog in Class A.

"I didn't even know that, honest to God I didn't," Haiden said of Monessen's No. 1 ranking. "I'm not a big statistics guy.

"What it boils down to is we have a goal that if we run so many plays, we have a chance. The more plays you run, the less your defense is on the field and the less they're trying to score."

That philosophy might be why Jefferson-Morgan might not beat the Greyhounds, but always provide heaps of trouble.

"I honestly think this is going to be a dog fight," Fischer said. "I think this is probably the biggest game this (regular) season for Monessen."

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